Marathi’s ‘first Shayar’ Bhausaheb Patankar, a legend forgotten?

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 12 Jan 2019 10:19:54

Unforgettable: The legend Bhausaheb Patankar.

By Kartik Lokhande,

A MAN becomes a legend when he crosses the barriers that stop an ordinary human being. Wasudeo Waman Patankar, popularly known as the first ‘Marathi Shayar’ Bhausaheb Patankar, was that legend.

During the ongoing 92nd Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Sahitya Sammelan at Yavatmal, the main pandal has been named after Bhausaheb Patankar. Everyone visiting the pandal reads the name. To some, it rings a bell and they bow in reverence. But, to many others, the legendary name brings no recollection. This is well evident from the fact that even when the literary meet was barely a couple of hours away from formal inauguration, hardly any visitors from across Maharashtra had visited the house of Bhausaheb in Tilak Wadi in Yavatmal town.

“I do not blame anyone for this. But, Bhausaheb never got his due. He never got what a man of his extraordinary brilliance deserved,” says Ajay Patankar, the grandson of Bhausaheb. The house of Patankar has the old-world charm, and preserves not only his memories but also the freshness of the family. Ajay Patankar, who left Yavatmal after his studies up to Class X and has returned after a long gap for elder daughter’s marriage, is very fond of his grandfather and knows by heart many of the witty ‘Shers’ of the legend.

Not many know that Bhausaheb, who was born on December 29, 1908, was an acclaimed hunter and had 18 kills to his credit including that of a man-eater tiger. The first book he wrote was a hunting tale ‘Kolhoba Kolhoba’. “He was a true genius. He introduced a genre in the world of literature – of autobiographical accounts of hunted animals,” Ajay Patankar tells with pride writ large on his face.

Bhausaheb did his BA in 1930 from Morris College, Nagpur, and later did his LL B from Law College, Nagpur. He practised as a successful lawyer till 1959 when he lost his eyesight due to Glaucoma. However, a man who got his initial lessons in ‘Nyay Shastra’ and ‘Vedanta’ from his father, a Sanskrit and Philosophy scholar, never lost his heart. “He was a ‘Kalandar’ and ‘Jindadil’ (maverick) man. In 1960, after losing his eyesight he started ‘Marathi Shayari’. It is rightly said: Adversity thy name is virtue. He proved it. Had he not lost his eyesight, the world would not have been blessed with this ‘Marathi Shayar’,” Ajay Patankar adds.

Bhausaheb never complained about his blindness. He had lost his eyesight but his intellect found creative expressions in ‘Shayari’. As Ajay Patankar recalls, Bhausaheb used to call him (then a teenager) whenever he had his ‘eureka’ moment and dictated the ‘Sher’ that took birth then and there. “He had such a graphic memory that he even used to call us and ask us to make amendments in some or the other ‘Sher’ he had dictated to us earlier. Even after losing his eyesight, he remembered several of landmarks even in dense forests. He accompanied us to jungles and used to provide us with insight about flora and fauna at a particular location,” he told ‘The Hitavada’.

Bhausaheb had three sons – Jayant (Ajay’s father), Vijay, and Arun; and two daughters namely Sudha Gadre (whose son Nitin is a senior IAS officer) and Saroj Kelkar (daughter-in-law of Rashtra Sevika Samiti founder Mavshi Kelkar). Though all of his sons and daughters have left the mortal world. their next generations have preserved Bhausaheb’s personal effects. Ajay has preserved and kept well-polished the two guns Bhausaheb used for hunting. Now, he plans to re-print the compilation of Bhausaheb Patankar’s ‘Shayari’ and even hunting tales and autobiographies of hunted animals.

The town of Yavatmal is hosting 92nd Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Sahitya Sammelan after a gap of 45 years. Thousands of people are visiting the venue of the Sammelan, but not even a handful of people have taken pains to visit the home of the first ‘Marathi Shayar’ who presented more than a thousand of three-hour programmes despite being deprived of eyesight. He recited his ‘Shayari’ only on the basis of memory since he could not read anything.

The man, the legend of Bhausaheb Patankar deserves a salutations from the bottom of the heart of his fans.